Research In Motion Chief Blasts Apple as BlackBerry vs. iPhone Battle Heats Up

The gloves are off in the battle between Research in Motion's BlackBerry and the Apple iPhone. On Tuesday, Research In Motion (RIMM) CEO Jim Balsillie on Tuesday blasted Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs for saying Apple had surpassed RIM and didn't expect the company to catch up "in the foreseeable future" -- and for bad-mouthing its plans for a 7-inch tablet.

In its fourth-quarter earnings posted Monday, Apple said it sold about 14 million iPhones, compared to the 12 million BlackBerry devices RIM sold for its most recently-completed quarter. But Balsillie took issue with Jobs' comparison of iPad and BlackBerry sales because Apple's quarter ended in September, one month later than RIM's, giving Apple the benefit of typically strong early fall sales. "As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story," he said in a statement.

Balsillie claims the open-programming platform used by RIM's portable devices is more attractive to programmers than the Apple platform. RIM last month unveiled its PlayBook, a 7-inch tablet designed to take on the 10-inch iPad. RIM said the PlayBook, which is scheduled to hit shelves in early 2011, can serve as a larger monitor for an existing BlackBerry, which can connect the tablet to the Internet.

Apple's iPad is the top-selling tablet today in a growing market. Research firm In-Stat last month predicted tablet sales would more than double in each of the next four years.